Orange County continues to pour it on

Orange County continues to pour it on
Anne Le of Laetitia Winery in the San Luis Obispo district showcases some of their wines at the Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival, a three-day romp through the wines of the world. Photo by Frank Mangio

Let me be clear right away, we don’t mean orange juice.  Wine events are lining up with the major wine players, many of them from Napa Valley and Sonoma, being treated to marquee performances by their hosts.

There is no better example of wine mania in O.C. than the Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival, a three-day romp through the wines of the world, with healthy doses of beer and spirits, to match up with some excellent food samples.

We’ll be reviewing one of these restaurants in the second half of this issue.  The festival, sponsored by American & Southern Wine & Spirits, celebrated its second year the first week in October and sold out all three days.  The names on the honor roll of wineries and celebrity guests read like a who’s who.

The tasting provided and chance to savor the likes of Argyle, Francis Ford Coppola, Ferrari Carano, Franciscan, Jackson Family, Joseph Phelps and a close-to-the-top favorite of mine, Laetitia Winery, makers of big-time Pinot Noir.  Here’s the take on this remarkable winery.  It is located in southern San Luis Obispo County overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Originally known for sparkling wines and still producing seven different styles, it is now known for its handcrafted Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  Their fruit comes from the Arroyo Grande AVA.

French founders started planting at Laetitia in 1982.  They found the land to be very similar to their homeland.  The winemaker for these 600-plus acres of vineyard land is Eric Dickey along with his brother Dave.  Buy the Laetitia Whole Cluster Pinot Noir ($42).

Whole cluster is the process of fermentation when the bunch or cluster of grapes, including the stem, is used in alcoholic fermentation. It is old world, French Burgundy style Pinot Noir, at its best. At the festival, Bravo TV’s Top Chefs were out in full force, led by Rick Bayless, in his 11th year on public television. He has written eight cookbooks.

For information on next year’s Newport Beach event, call Lindsey Henn at (626) 893-4228.

Canaletto Restorante of Newport Beach

I first reviewed Canaletto in Las Vegas at the Venetian Hotel.  I was transplanted to Italy by the design, food, wine and premium service.

Antonio Bevacqua, left, is the general manager, and Moises Mondoza is the executive chef at Canaletto in Orange County. Photo by Frank Mangio

Antonio Bevacqua, left, is the general manager, and Moises Mondoza is the executive chef at Canaletto in Orange County. Photo by Frank Mangio

But, you don’t have to go to Vegas.  The Orange County Canaletto in Fashion Island has perfected the same art of Italian cuisine, with General Manager Antonio Bevacqua and Executive Chef Moises Mendoza.  On this night, Canaletto collaborated with Heitz Wines of Napa Valley.

Their latest release is the 2010 Napa Cabernet single vineyard Trailside Vineyard. It’s a dense and powerful wine with aromas and taste of fresh-picked blackberry and a touch of rich cocoa ($80.)

At Canaletto, the wines come first, with Moises building lusciously paired dishes to compliment.  With the Heitz Cabernet, it was a Ravioli di Melanzane (roasted eggplant ravioli with burrata cheese, basil and garlic sauce.  Learn more about Canaletto and RSVP for dinner at (949) 640-0900.

Wine Bytes

The next great wine dinner in Orange County is at 21 Oceanfront in Newport Beach. Dec. 8 at 6:30 p.m. with Grgich Hills Estate.  Enjoy wines from Chardonnay to Cabernet with a four-course fine dinner. Cost is $110; call for an RSVP at (949) 673-2100.

Beach House Winery in Fallbrook has its annual Christmas Bazaar Nov. 28 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.  No charge for this event featuring local artists and businesses.  Enjoy your holiday shopping with a glass of their wine and live music.  For more call (760) 732-3236.

Capri Blu in Rancho Bernardo is presenting a Frescobaldi Wine dinner Dec. 2 at 6 p.m. This is a four-course super dinner featuring grilled Filet Mignon Medallions, paired with a 2009 Frescobaldi Brunello.  $55. RSVP at (858) 673-5100.

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator.  He is one of the leading wine commentators on the web.  View his columns at tasteofwinetv.com and reach him at mangiompc@aol.com.  Follow him on Facebook.

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